delay / late / postpone

Late is an adjective and an adverb, describing an event that happened after the correct time:

  • We had a late breakfast at 10:00.

    (the usual time for breakfast is earlier, around 7-9 AM)

  • The bus arrived thirty minutes late.

    (the bus arrived thirty minutes after the correct time on the schedule)

    Avoid this common error: if you arrive late for an appointment, don’t say “Sorry for late” or “Sorry for the late.” The correct expression is “Sorry I’m late.”

    Delay is a noun and a verb, describing a cause for something to be late:

  • We were delayed by heavy traffic.

    (the traffic caused us to be late)

  • The delay in the project was caused by a miscommunication.

    (the miscommunication caused the project to fall behind schedule)

    Postpone is a verb – it is when you choose to do something at a later time than planned. Usually “delay” involves factors beyond your control (like the traffic or weather), whereas “postpone” is a more conscious decision to change the schedule.

  • Three team members aren’t available on Tuesday – let’s postpone the meeting until Thursday.
  • My daughter got sick, so we postponed our camping trip until the following weekend.